Council bugging row rumbles on

A GROUP of ex-Holbeach parish councillors have hit back in a row over paying a firm of private investigators to check whether the council offices were bugged.

In a statement, the group described as “blatantly untrue” a suggestion that two ex-councillors were solely responsible for hiring Morcliff Securities to look into the possibility of the offices in West End, Holbeach, being bugged.

The suggestion was made by the council after it investigated the circumstances behind a £1,185 payment to the Nottingham-based firm which was brought in when details of a private meeting were made public by someone not at the meeting.

A council statement issued last month said no evidence of bugging had been found and the payment was for “work carried out under the direction of two former members of Holbeach Parish Council.”

But in its response, the group said: “The recent statement issued by the parish council infers that the decision to use Morcliffe Securities was that of two former councillors alone.

“That is totally untrue.

“It must be stressed that persons still on and associated with the present council were also party to this matter from the very outset.

“There were certainly more than just two former councillors who were aware of the situation.

“Any suggestions to the contrary are blatantly untrue.”

The group said Morcliff Securities were brought in after the council took legal advice on suspicions that a council employee may have installed bugging devices inside the offices.

“Due to the nature of the circumstances, the matter was kept very low key as it was felt that the individual concerned may possibly be informed that the council was aware of what amounted to an illegal act having taken place,” the group’s statement said.

“There was definitely evidence to support this belief as it appeared that smoke detectors in the offices had been tampered with.

“The nature of the payment to Morcliffe Securities, and certainly what it related to, was most definitely known at the time and was certainly not a mystery.

“This whole matter has only been highlighted following a member of the public exercising his legal right to inspect the financial accounts of the parish council and then to question its financial dealings.”